HANCEVILLE, ALA. – Wallace State anglers Ryan Shields and Chayse Freeman have circled this week on their calendars since February.
Shields and Freeman are in Campbellsville, Ky., preparing for the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship. They’ll practice through Wednesday on Green River Lake and begin competing for a national championship on Thursday.
“It feels great to know we are representing Wallace State. We are going up against a lot of heavy hitters in this tournament and ready for the challenge,” said Shields, a sophomore from Hazel Green. “Chayse and I are both very driven and have a winning attitude. He wants to win as much as I do, and we both want to do well for Wallace State.”
Shields and Freeman qualified for the national event in February after finishing 21st overall at the Carhartt College Southern Regional at Lake Martin in Alexander City. The Wallace State duo reeled in nearly 28 pounds during the final day of the Southern Regional, finishing ahead of teams from Auburn, Florida, South Alabama, Mississippi State and Clemson.
“It meant a lot to qualify in February because last year I never got started in the tournaments because of boat problems. It’s very exciting to know my first year of fishing for Wallace State has led to an opportunity like this. I’ve never fished outside of Alabama, so that makes it even more interesting. It’s definitely the biggest tournament I’ve been a part of,” said Freeman, a 2014 Cullman graduate.
Shields and Freeman are making the third national championship for Wallace State’s BASS Fishing Club in four years. Josh Butts and Justin Rivers finished 38th out of 81 teams in last year’s national event in Wisconsin.
Shields said he’s sought advice from Butts, a former welding classmate, about preparing for a national event.
“While every lake is different, Josh said treat it like any other tournament and enjoy the experience for what it is because you never know if you have another opportunity. We’re going to give it 110 percent,” said Shields, who will take a Triton 19 SE boat for him and Freeman to use on the water.
While in high school, Shields (Hazel Green High) and Freeman (Cullman) crossed paths fishing for their respective schools as they competed in sanctioned tournaments across the state. Through the BASS Club, they decided to team up when they met at Wallace State.
“Even though I didn’t know Ryan too well before college, I knew he was very good at fishing,” Freeman said. “I knew good things were in store for us.”
Shields is a sophomore in welding, while Freeman is enrolled in Wallace State’s Engineering Technology program.
The entire national championship field competes on Thursday and Friday and the field is trimmed Saturday to the top five teams catching the heaviest cumulative five-bass daily limits. Following the championship round, members of the top four teams compete individually in the Carhartt College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops on Lake Kentucky on Aug. 4-6. The top college angler in the Classic bracket competition earns an invitation to compete with the world’s top professional bass anglers in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe in Houston.
Shields and Freeman both thanked their sponsors and faculty sponsor Joe Hendrix for their support.
For more information about Wallace State, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 256-352-8443 direct
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu
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